Arsenal take on Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League quarter-final in San Sebastian in a one-legged affair. The winners will play the winners of Lyon v Bayern Munich in the semi-final in Bilbao on Wednesday evening. The Gunners need to win the competition to re-qualify for it in 2020-21 but first they must overcome PSG.
Arsenal have not played a competitive game since February 29th when they lost the Conti Cup Final to Chelsea, but they have been in fine fettle in their practice games, beating Charlton 5-0, Aston Villa 4-0 and Brighton 2-0. Montemurro’s side have finished each of the games with a penalty shootout to practice in case they are required in Spain.
Montemurro is bringing a 22-strong squad and five substitutions are permitted. If the scores are level after 90 minutes, a period of extra-time will ensue followed by penalties. There isn’t much to choose between Arsenal and PSG in terms of quality and this is likely to be a tight game, decided by small details.
For further preview material, consult the following from Arseblog News during this week:
Kim Little interview ahead of PSG
Arsenal Women Champions League recap
Arsenal Women Champions League lowdown
Arsenal Women Arsecast
Arsenal Women squad profile
Caitlin Foord interview ahead of PSG
New signings Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Lydia Williams, Noelle Maritz and Malin Gut have been added to the Arsenal squad, as well as teenager Ruby Mace. Lia Wälti, Kim Little, Danielle van de Donk and Beth Mead have all returned from injuries that would have kept them from playing when the tie was originally scheduled in March.
Lydia Williams has an ankle injury that will keep her out for a couple of months, so Fran Stenson will be on the bench. Joe Montemurro confirmed to me in his pre-match press conference that Steph Catley would be available, despite not having played in any of the practice matches, “She has trained well for the last couple of days and we’re very happy that she is part of the squad and available for selection.”
LAST TIME OUT
The two teams have never met competitively before but did play a pre-season friendly in August 2018 which ended in a 2-2 draw with goals from Beth Mead and Kim Little.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Caitlin Foord was only able to play for Arsenal twice prior to lockdown. The Australian can play all across the front line but will probably line up as a wide forward for this match. Foord’s signing has been somewhat forgotten among the litany of WSL transfer business, she offers different qualities to the Gunners’ attack.
— The Women's FA Cup (@TheWomensFACup) August 14, 2020
Caitlin is a physical, dynamic player with excellent link-up abilities, in a team that prides itself on its technical precision in the final third, Foord offers a sprinkle of physicality and she is not afraid to score a scrappy close range goal either. She is a player that Montemurro has wanted for some years and I expect her to become an integral part of the team this season.
1.ZINSBERGER, 17.EVANS, 5.BEATTIE, 6.WILLIAMSON, 16.MARITZ, 13.WALTI, 10.LITTLE [c], 8.NOBBS, 7.VAN DE DONK, 19.FOORD; 11.MIEDEMA. Subs; 9.Mead, 12.Catley, 14.Roord, 15.McCabe, 20.Maier, 21.Gut, 22.Schnaderbeck, 24.Stenson, 27.Filis, 30.Mace.
PSG have been perennial bridesmaids to Lyon domestically, though they were unfortunate that the DF1 standings at the suspension of the league were eventually declared final. PSG trailed Lyon by three points and were scheduled to play them at home in late March. They also lost the Coup de France final to Lyon on penalties after a hard fought 0-0 draw earlier this month.
— Zach (@zac13_) August 9, 2020
Paris struck a tactical surprise in that final by playing a high pressing 442 formation with star striker Marie Antoinette Katoto dropping back into midfield to make a midfield five off the ball. They will probably revert to their favoured 433. This summer they added Chelsea forward Ramona Bachmann to their ranks and can also call upon talent such as Formiga, Nadia Nadim, Alana Cook and Ashley Lawrence.
I asked Joe what he was expecting from PSG on Saturday, tactically, “Like us, they can switch around. They usually play a 433 but they can play a 442 as well and press you very high, we have prepared for both formations tomorrow night.”
PSG Squad; Voll, Endler, Criscione; Simone, Cook, Dudek, Paredes, Baltimore; Luana, Geyoro, Nadim, Lawrence, Däbritz, Saevik, Fazer, Marroni, Formiga, Khelifi; Bachmann, Katoto, Diani, Bruun, Huitema.
HOW TO CATCH THE GAME
The game kicks off at 7pm on Saturday evening. In the UK, the game is live on BT Sport 1, in the USA it will be screened on CBS, ESPN Brasil is also carrying it for Latin American viewers, otherwise you can watch on UEFA.tv on the UEFA website.
I have some breaking news to share with you.
CBS All Access will carry the UEFA Women’s Champions League season-ending tournament that kicks off Friday in Spain, a source with knowledge of the deal told The Inquirer:https://t.co/oSt4RVYxGX pic.twitter.com/LpkidHka9T
— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) August 20, 2020
We will have quotes from Joe Montemurro’s post-match press conference exclusively on the site shortly after the game and all the usual build-up for the semi-final should Arsenal qualify.